The Hotel Guru: Bel Natividad
With an unbeatable location on the Passeig de Gràcia, the new 98-room Mandarin Oriental (doubles from $756) is the city’s most high-profile hotel opening in some time. The hotel’s communications director is Bel Natividad, a Barcelona native who has her finger on the city’s style pulse. For “one-of-a-kind, handmade” leather tops and pants, she recommends Eden Lun, while Complementos Carmina Rotger is her source for earrings and necklaces. She loves strolling through the Galvany Market, where she picks up spinach-and-pine-nut coca (Catalan pizza) at the old-fashioned bakery Forn Roura and stocks up on cotton napkins of all colors and sizes at the MyDrap stand.
The Illustrator: Jordi Labanda
It’s hard to go far in Barcelona—or anywhere in Spain—without encountering the work of illustrator Jordi Labanda, whose glamorous, retro-tinged images can be seen on everything from stationery and T-shirts to Adidas ads. Originally from Uruguay, the prolific 42-year-old artist and fashion designer has resided in Barcelona since he was three: “My life here is balanced and calm yet perfectly modern,” he says. When he’s not drawing or traveling, Labanda might visit the Fundació Joan Miró museum, admire the Modernist serenity of the Pavelló Mies Van der Rohe, or stop for coffee at Els Quatre Gats (coffee for two $12). He also recommends the housewares at the high-concept En Línea Barcelona and the sharply edited couture collection at Jean-Pierre Bua. Labanda’s own products can be found at the emblematic design shop Vinçon and the Corte Inglés department store.